I’m writing today about the current culture of being offended. Offense is pretty much the new black. Most people today just can’t wait to wrap themselves in their cloak of perceived insult. I can’t help but think… Don’t you have a thicker skin than that? And what about all the other people who aren’t offended? Is it all about you? Does something have to stop because YOU don’t like it?
I know that in every book I write, there is something who will offend someone. One of the reasons I wrote The Raveners was I know that people are often very sensitive about the Teufelverse. A few, very well meaning friends have said that they just can’t read Teufel or New Austrian Order. Why? They can’t handle the Nazis. If it upsets them, I get it. They aren’t telling me not to write it, and I’m not telling them they have to read it. It’s all very civilized. They congratulate me on a job well done and go on their way.
I know that there will be people who will be offended by The Raveners if it crosses their path. The book has a strong thread of spirituality in it. The Catholic Church has a strong presence in the book and some Catholics may not like some of the ways the Church is represented. Others may not like the way faith is represented. In that way, the book is very personal to me, as it represents a lot of my views on God and all that we call faith. When it comes to that, the book says far more than I actually ever intended it to.
Rachel, my ever faithful editor said… this is almost edging into Christian fiction. I was like…. O.O Nooooooooo. It’s not that it’s a “christian novel” but Christianity does play a big part. Crusader Knights cursed by God. He’s in the book. And I’m sure that some fundamentalist Christians may not appreciate some of my views.
And if they are offended, I don’t really care. They can write a book that sums up their idea of God, the spirit and what happens when the Almighty gets pissed off.
My problem is… The next book in the series is going to express some of my views on the recent epidemic of terrorism in Europe. Yup. That particular hot potato. A person very close to me said… ‘If you write that book, it could really offend a lot of people. Could you write about something else. I don’t want you to get hurt.’
I think you know the people I’m talking about.
In fact, I self censored any mention of the religion in question when I wrote The Raveners, and it’s always left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. I did it because, at the time, I was afraid. Perhaps at the moment, I’m too angry to be afraid. I have something to say, and that always makes for a powerful book. I think I’m at my best when I have something howling inside me, trying to get out.
I’ve never been politically correct. Never. I don’t actively try to hurt people. In person, it’s not my way to be deliberately provocative. You meet me, and I’m actually rather polite. At the same time, I don’t usually quench who I am to spare your feelings. I mean, how am I supposed to know what offends you and what doesn’t? If what I write offends you, don’t read it. I’m certainly not going to force you.
If we can’t act in a civilized way when we are offended, then what good are we? There is a pundit I’ve followed in the past. I’m often in agreement with this person, and I followed them rather religiously. Then they went off on a tear about fat people. I’m a fat person. I was reading a blog post of this person, thinking… ‘What the hell, MAN!? You dislike fat people so much. Why?’ So I wrote this person… told them I was a loyal follower, but that I couldn’t understand the fat hate and they had lost a fan. All very civilized. I don’t follow them anymore. Normally, I wouldn’t even write the note, but I’d had a lot of respect for this person. This pundit can continue to have their opinion. I have removed myself because I don’t need to hear fat people being derided. My offense, my problem.
A very dear friend of mine is a brilliant artist who went through a period of doing fascist inspired art. All very tongue in cheek. Satirical. There is a concept in New Austrian Order that she even painted for me. It’s fantastic. She used to post on Tumblr quite a bit, but its slowed down a lot. Why? The sheer volume of hate mail she was receiving. People who were offended. My personal favourite was the woman who wrote her to tell her she should be gang raped by black men for her art.
Now tell me… what’s offensive? Satirical art? Or a woman telling another woman that she should be gang raped? Hmm? I will give you two guesses, but I think you will only need one.
So I’ve decided I’m done with worrying about offending people. It really is something I have thought about. I’ve self censored. But as an artist, I feel I need to be true to my muse. If you are offended, then that is your problem. You don’t need to read my books. You don’t need to read my blog.
I like to hear from my fans. I really do. I love to know what people think. I’m even game for constructive criticism. Just keep it civil. Don’t tell me you are offended as you run off in a huff. Don’t threaten me.
I have my opinions. You have your opinions. I don’t have to like all of yours, and you certainly don’t have to like all of mine. Let’s just be adults about it… shall we?
And a big thank you to the men who summed all this up in words far better than mine.